THE BLOG

Ask Michael Cohen: How to Be Royal on a Commoner Budget

05/04/2011 03:47 pm ET | Updated Jul 04, 2011

I think watching the Royal wedding threw me into a manic wedding moment and I need your help. I have five friends getting married in the next two months and I have less than five hundred dollars to buy some dresses and I'm really not a snob but I prefer not to be wearing a Forever 21 dress, I'm 27 years old! The weddings range from Saturday night affairs to a beach wedding and one is a Sunday brunch. Sara S., Hoboken, NJ

Stop being a drama queen. There is no time for that considering how in demand you are this wedding season. So as your graduation present from Forever 21, it's time to look at Zara, who I think this Spring is really delivering on style. This electrically charged pink dress with a flared skirt for only $39.90 (I guess their clever marketing folks feel $39.99 is just too much) is perfect for the ocean side wedding. Keep accessories to a minimum with a statement ring and a few of your favorite bangles. Pair with flats and a clutch and you will be the perfect hybrid of city meets beach chic.

As for your Saturday night affairs, you can absolutely not go wrong with this must-have Calvin Klein sleeveless sheath dress for $99 that will no doubt become a go-to little black dress. For one affair, pair it with black patent peep-toes that have a fabulous heel and accessorize with a statement necklace. For another, dress it up with a colorful pump or clutch and long stranded necklaces. Trust me honey, no one will know you rocked the same dress twice.

For that annoying Sunday wedding (sorry I find them so cliché) this $138 Jessica Simpson pale nude dress with lace detailing and exaggerated ruffles is surprisingly effortless and very young lady-like. Pair it with a nude pump to extend your leg and carry a simplistic black clutch.

Now, with the two hundred dollars I saved you go take some yoga classes because you sound like a stressed out mess -- but at least you'll be a stylish one.

One of my dearest friends is getting married at the end of the month and looking at her wedding registry makes my stomach turn. Reason being after Georgetown she went the route of marrying a high powered lawyer and wearing Louboutin's and I went to being a teacher and wearing Birkenstocks. In lieu of buying her overpriced forks from Tiffany what do you recommend? Vivian K, Washington D.C.

I totally understand this situation. I have had many friends get married the past few years, and I absolutely refuse to abide by any form of gift registry. In a way I find them slightly obnoxious, as they feel forced, but not everyone has the gift of taste. Alas these registries irritate me, you and lots of other people as well.

So when you have a friend that seems to have all the material possessions in the world and seemingly still wants more, e.g. her Tiffany registry, making a donation is the answer. But here is where it gets tricky. You don't donate money to a charity that only pertains to your causes. You must be thoughtful about it and donate to an organization that in some way relates to your friend's life or interests. JustGive.Org makes this very easy allowing you to donate by categories such as art and culture or by geographic location. I'm sure your friend wouldn't mind having a donation, in any denomination, to a local food bank made in her name.

And hang on to your friendship without resentment, because I'm sure you in your rubber-soled shoes, and she in her red ones, still walk the same line.

Since I started planning my wedding my fiancé and I have been doing nothing but fighting over the guest list. His grandmother, also known as "nana" wants to invite the entire family some of which he hasn't seen in 20 years and some I didn't even know existed. We simply can't afford them at the reception so my question is how can I not be the bitchy bride and have them part of this experience? Monica Russell, Boca Raton

Although I feel that Queen Elizabeth always has a scowl on her face, which has made me not her biggest fan, I really did like her decision to have a fabulous brunch after the Royal wedding ceremony of Prince William to Kate Middleton which included the very extended family members. You know, the ones that didn't make the list for the reception Prince Charles hosted.

I think you should follow in their footsteps and organize an inexpensive brunch after the ceremony so "nana" doesn't terrorize your life while she's still around, and here is how to keep it cost effective yet chic: crepes and chardonnay. And I don't mean Nutella and strawberries (although they are delicious). Serve crepes filled with spinach, bacon and mushrooms or my favorite, asparagus and chicken.

When it comes to wine, you'll get some royal taste from the Cupcake vineyards Chardonnay, a moderately priced wine, that's smooth and cutely packaged for that brunch-like feel.

Have a royal situation in your life and need some common sense? Write me here, at Michael@askmichaelcohen.com or connect with me on Facebook